Singapore is gripped by its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began, and the challenge to its medical resources was captured in images today of patients forced to wait outside a hospital emergency department.
As Singapore set a new record in daily cases, the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Novena confirmed to Coconuts today that footage of about a dozen patients waiting in beds was genuine, noting that it is trying to create more space for COVID-19 services.
“The last week has been rough. We have been receiving higher than usual COVID positive and suspect cases via ambulances and walk-ins at our Emergency Department,” it announced Sunday, along with plans to use part of a car park for patients.
Singapore had been spared scenes such as these for most of the pandemic. At its worst last year, tens of thousands of infected migrant laborers were kept mostly out of sight.
But since mid-August, a trickle of daily cases has shot up, reaching a new high yesterday of 1,457 infections. While troubling for Singapore – which can brag of an 80% vaccination rate – it’s still a fraction of its neighbors’ suffering. The crises in Thailand and Malaysia are an order of magnitude worse, with daily cases well above 10,000 – and likely higher.
With the virus spreading through Singapore hospital staff, patients, and visitors, the Health Ministry yesterday ordered visitors banned at all hospitals for four weeks starting Friday.
The virus has also been spreading at several nursing homes, two hawker centers and been detected again in migrant worker dorms, the setting of 2020’s worst outbreaks.
Singapore reported yesterday 145 are people currently on ventilators while another 19 are in critical condition. Three deaths were reported last night: one vaccinated 90-year-old woman and two unvaccinated men, aged 50 and 65.
Since the pandemic began, the city has reported nearly 80,000 cases but fewer than 70 deaths.